Oman Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
Driving In Oman
Roads are generally well maintained and in good condition in Oman . This can however lead to speeding and dangerous and aggressive overtaking. Traffic signals are generally obeyed but you should still expect erratic behaviour from some road users. Driving in the desert and on sand is one potential hazard you’re likely to encounter in Oman. Many places of interest to the visitor involve going off-road, for instance going through wadis (dry river valleys), up mountains tracks or to the desert. For this reason, it’s recommended to use a 4×4 and if possible to drive with more than one vehicle (at least to more remote spots). Even when not planning to go off-road you never know when you will find an unpaved section, or a flooded road after rain, so it’s safer with an off-road type vehicle that can go anywhere. One popular destination, Jebel Akdar, is only accessible by 4×4 which is checked by the police.
When driving outside Muscat you need to be cautious of animals on the road, especially goats and camels. The driver is legally responsible if an animal is hit during daylight hours and will have to pay compensation to the owner of the animal (quite a lot in the case of a camel!). However, after dark the owner of the animal is responsible.
Although it doesn’t rain often in Oman, when it does there are usually flash floods as the water pours down from the rivers to the sea. The wadis flood and often sweep vehicles away and cause deaths through drowning. So the rule is to never camp in a wadi, and to avoid driving in wadis if it is cloudy/raining or rains are forecast.
There are a several tourist camps in the Wahiba Sands which is the most likely desert destination for visitors to Oman. Some are easily reached along a well-used track and could be driven to by an inexperienced but prepared sand driver with some research and precautions (eg tyre pressure needs to be reduced), though often the camp staff will arrange to meet tourists to accompany them through the sand to reach the camp. Other camps are further into the desert and involve more challenging driving to reach them which should not be attempted by one vehicle alone if inexperienced. Signposting is not very clear if existing at all and a GPS is advisable (also as a safety precaution). If going off the track, do not attempt to drive in the desert without a suitable vehicle, appropriate recovery equipment, GPS and in a group of at least 3 vehicles, as well as having some knowledge of sand driving.
Signposts are a bit erratic and not to be depended on. It is also hard to find a decent road map besides tourist maps. If exploring the country a GPS is recommended. Also be aware that the spelling of Arabic place names in Roman letters doesn’t follow a consistent system with the result that the same place can be spelt differently on each sign on the same road or the GPS spelling doesn’t match the road signs. This can be confusing!
Thanks to DriverAbroad.com user Clare Jones De Rocco for some great insights into driving abroad in Oman
Oman Car Rental –
Sixt ,Hertz, Europcar, National, Avis, Budget,Dollar, Thrifty, have outlets here.Also usually features on Car rental broker sites such as Argus Car Hire and Web discount sites such as ebookers.com. or Expedia
This website lists a number of local car rental options
The company below supplies vehicles to the national oil company, PDO, which have a higher safety specification and these are available for general rental. Ask for “PDO Spec”, and it should be a Landcruiser with extra spare tyre and role cage and a maximum vehicle age. They will not be brand new and pristine (mabye 5 years old and scratched), but will be well-maintained and safe. They don’t have a website or do online bookings, so it needs to be done by telephone or email.
Al Maha Rent a car
Phone numbers: 24603376,24603359,24602208 Fax: 24605502
This is a local company who can arrange car rental –
This company offer self drive itineraries in Oman-
Oman Self Drive Rules-
Seem to be vary by company. Hertz and Sixt don’t allow any cross border driving. Budget allow cars to be taken to UAE for an additional charge. Europcar mention restrictions on driving to certain countries but don’t say which. Avis, are as ambiguous as usual and say nothing.
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